The founder of California-based Tri Valley University in the US, who destroyed the academic careers of several hundred Indian students, has been convicted on 31 counts including visa fraud by a federal grand jury.
Susan Xiao-Ping Su’s sentencing is scheduled for June 20. The guilty verdict followed a three-week jury trial before the Jon S Tigar, US District Court Judge in San Francisco. Through her illegal operations involving visa fraud and wire transfers Su made over USD 5.9 million through her operation of Tri-Valley University (TVU), prosecutors said.
About 90 per cent of TVU’s students were from India. She engaged in seven money laundering transactions using proceeds to purchase commercial real estate, a Mercedes Benz car, and multiple residences, including a mansion on the Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton, California each in her name.
The investigation began in May, 2010 following a tip to federal investigators pertaining to irregularities at TVU. Su was indicted by a federal grand jury in November, 2011. She was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit visa fraud, visa fraud, use of a false document, false statements to a government agency, alien harbouring,
unauthorised access to government computers, and money laundering.
Evidence at trial showed that Su, 43, engaged in a two-year scheme to defraud the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by submitting fraudulent documents in support of TVU’s petition for approval to admit foreign students and, after having obtained such approval, fraudulently issued visa-related documents to student aliens in exchange for “tuition and fees”.
In her petition, Su made material false representations to DHS regarding TVU’s admission requirements, graduation requirements, administrators, instructors, class transferability, and agreed to comply with federal regulations.
Three purported TVU professors testified that they never authorised Su to use their credentials in connection with the university. Multiple TVU employees testified that the university had no requirements for admission or graduation, and that Su routinely instructed her staff to fabricate fraudulent transcripts.
In carrying out the scheme, Su made additional false representations to DHS through TVU’s use of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which the US government uses, in part, to monitor the F-1 student visa programme, the Justice Department said. Through her false representations, Su was able to unlawfully obtain and issue F-1 visa-related documents without regard to the students’ academic qualifications or intent to pursue a course of study required to maintain a lawful immigration status.
Su admitted and maintained student aliens in exchange for tuition and other payments, the Justice Department said.
The jury also convicted Su of harbouring two TVU student employees to assist her in making the false representations to SEVIS. One of the harboured student employees testified that Su asked him to paint her house and to move furniture.